The programme is run by the Afghan National Police with funding and expertise from the United States. 

"This is the first time that women have been included in this basic training programme," lead police advisor for the project Tom Moselle said. 

During the eight-week course women will be trained to do exactly the same work as their male counterparts. They will be taught arrest procedures, handcuffing, defensive tactics, interview techniques and how to patrol, Moselle said. 

Under the Islamic Taliban regime which ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, women were banned from working and attending school and forced to wear an all-enveloping burqa. 

More than two years after the fall of the regime most women still wear the restrictive garment and few have paid employment. 

Psychological scars

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the first female registrations on Monday, Deputy Women's Affairs Minister Suraya Rahim said that women still bore the psychological scars of the Taliban regime. 

However, Afghanistan would not be able to progress without the involvement of women in all elements of society, she said. 

"We do feel that we should have policewomen, now more than ever," Rahim said. 

For several of the seven women who registered on Monday, becoming a policewoman will be their first job. 

"I was jobless and locked at home during the Taliban," said Hanis Gul, from the Shomali Plains north of Kabul. "But now as our Afghanistan gets better, there is a chance for us to get a job. So I came here to get a job and become a policewoman." 

Hanifa, 35, said she was registering to become policewoman so she could serve her country and support her family. 

"I am a widow, so this way I can support my family with the salary that I will receive," she said. "My family is also happy for me to become an officer." 

Male domination

The training is run with funding
and expertise from the US

There are no figures on how many women are in the police force but the ranks of the 34,000 military police, 28,000 police officers and 10,000 border police are no doubt dominated by men. 

Major Gul Jan, who joined the police force when she was 19 and only stopped working when was banned from doing so by the Taliban, is also happy with the new recruits. 

Jan, now 36, said the hardest time in the police force for her was during the Taliban, when she was severely beaten several times. 

"They hated me a lot," she said of the regime. "After the fall of the Taliban I was the first lady to take off the burqa and I joined the police again. Now I want to work for them 24 hours a day."